By Brian James Lu

Upholding solo parents’ welfare

It was a fun-filled day when the Quezon City government held the 1st National Solo Parents Week on April 25, 2023.

Elected city officials and members of civil society organizations attended the event at Sunken Garden at the Quezon City Hall grounds.

In my capacity as representative of the business sector of the Quezon City Council of Sectoral Representatives, I was there to welcome the solo parents and applauded them for their achievements.

We were fortunate that Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte graced the event and extended her support to the solo parents who are residents of the city.

Solo parents are in a precarious situation. They belong to the vulnerable sectors of society. Child rearing ideally requires both parents, and doing it solo makes it more difficult. Hence, government laws give solo parents special protection.

The Quezon City government offers a lot of services and benefits to its constituents, making it the recipient of many good governance awards.

The welfare of solo parents has come a long way since the enactment of Republic Act 8972, or the Solo Parents Welfare Act of 2000. The law was later amended into Republic Act 11861, or the Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Act that was enacted on June 4, 2022.

The new law expanded its scope and increased the benefits granted to solo parents. The Act now covers six categories of solo parents: (1) A parent who provides sole parental care and support of the child or children; (2) A spouse, any family member, or a guardian of the child or children of an overseas Filipino worker [OFW], provided that the OFW belongs to a group of low/semi-skilled workers and has been away for an uninterrupted period of 12 months; (3) An unmarried parent who keeps and rears the child or children; (4) Any legal guardian, adoptive, or foster parent who solely provides parental care and support; (5) Any relative within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity of the parent or legal guardian who assumes parental care and support of the child or children as a result of death, abandonment, disappearance, or absence of the parents for at least six months; and, (6) A pregnant woman who provides sole parental care and support to the unborn child or children.

The expansion of the law's coverage benefits many solo parents in the country. A recent study by the World Health Organization shows that there are 15 million solo parents in the Philippines and that 95 percent are women. To enjoy the benefits provided by the law, solo parents need to register with their respective local government units (LGUs).

On top of the benefits provided for by RA 11861, the Quezon City council passed an ordinance (Ordinance No. SP-2766, Series of 2018) that mandates restaurants to provide a 20-percent discount to Quezon City solo parents every first and last Sunday of the month. The 20 percent is applicable to a solo parent dining together with his/her registered number of children and having a bill that is below PHP2,000 within the same establishment within the same day. Failure to comply with the ordinance carries penalties such as a PHP2,000 fine and the revocation of a business permit.

This law is beneficial to solo parents and their children. Parents and children usually bond on weekends, given their work and study schedules. At the Quezon Memorial Circle, for example, parents and their kids usually spend time together, and the restaurants there are full of families. Solo parents can now enjoy these with their children since most of them contend with economic hardships when nurturing their kids.

Mayor Belmonte is very firm on the implementation of the ordinance. She urged the solo parents to file a complaint against erring restaurant establishments that failed to provide discounts to them.

Quezon City solo parent residents are more fortunate than their counterparts in other cities. The LGU has lined up a number of projects and programs for them in addition to those that the national government already offers. They are provided with PHP20,000 in cash aid through “Pangkabuhayang QC” if they want to start their own business. There is also the Small Income Generating Assistance (SIGA) program that provides additional capital to entrepreneurs like existing sari-sari store owners.

Also, through the city’s social welfare assistance program, indigent solo parents can receive financial assistance amounting to PHP1,000 monthly.

Data from the Social Services and Development Department of Quezon City show that there are 11,069 registered solo parents as of 2021. It is a small percentage of the 2.9 million people in the city. By providing several programs to solo parents, their situation is alleviated, and their children are given a chance to aspire for a bright future.

The Quezon City Council also passed Ordinance No. SP-3049, Series of 2021, providing housing benefits to solo parents and their children. The Ordinance states that "any solo parent whose income in the place of domicile falls below the poverty threshold as set by the National Economic and Development Authority and subject to the assessment of the SSDD worker in the area shall be eligible for assistance."

Under this program, 10 percent of the city’s social housing program should come from the ranks of solo parents. Providing a roof and shelter to marginalized solo parents is very heartening. Our taxes are being used to fund developmental programs that benefit the marginalized sector of Quezon City. The business sector where I come from welcomes such beneficial programs.

The participants whom I have talked to during the holding of the National Solo Parents Week expressed their gratitude to Mayor Belmonte and the city council for giving attention to their situation. The concrete benefits they will now enjoy address their peculiar situation and give them strength in their daily struggle to provide education, food and other needs for their children. 


About the Columnist

Image of Brian James Lu

BRIAN JAMES J. LU, MMgt, is an entrepreneur, business adviser, government consultant, and is deeply involve in civil society organizations. He advocates good governance, ethical business practices, and social responsibilities. He is the President of the National Economic Protectionism Association (NEPA) and Chairman of the Foundation for National Development (Fonad). His broad experiences in the private and public sectors give him a unique perspective to advance his advocacies.